What is are Tomatoes?

The tomato is a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family, along with bell peppers, aubergine, and potatoes. Tomatoes have fleshy internal segments filled with slippery seeds surrounded by a watery matrix. They can be red, yellow, orange, green, or brown in color. In fact, there are over a thousand different varieties that vary in shape, size, and color.

There are small cherry tomatoes, bright yellow tomatoes, Italian pear-shaped tomatoes, and the green tomato, famous for its fried preparation in southern American cuisine. Although tomatoes are fruit in a botanical sense, since they don’t have the sweet quality of other fruit they are commonly thought of as a vegetable. For this reason, they are included in this chapter.

History of Tomatoes

The tomato, like many other members of the nightshade family, originated in Central and South America. The first type of tomato grown is thought to have resembled the smaller-sized cherry tomato more than the larger varieties.
The tomato was first cultivated in Mexico, supposedly because the Mexican Indians were intrigued by this fruit since it resembled the tomatillo, which was a staple in their cuisine.

The Spanish conquistadors who came to Mexico shortly after Columbus’s discovery of the New World “discovered” tomatoes and took the seeds back to Spain, beginning the introduction of the tomato into Europe. Although the tomato spread throughout Europe and made its way to Italy by the sixteenth century, it was originally not a very popular food because many people held the belief that it was poisonous since it was a member of the deadly nightshade family.

They were wise to fear that the tomato plant was poisonous, but their fear was not entirely accurate as it is the leaves of the tomato plant, but not its fruit, that contain toxic alkaloids. Yet, due to this belief, tomatoes were more often grown as an ornamental garden plant than as a food for several more centuries in some European countries.
The name the tomato was given in various languages reflects some of the history and mystery surrounding it. The Latin name, Lycopersicon, means “wolf peach” and refers to the former belief that, like a wolf, this fruit was dangerous.

The French called it pomme d’am0ur, meaning “love apple,” since they believed it to have aphrodisiac qualities, while the Italians named it pomodoro, or “golden apple,” probably owing to the fact that the first known species with which they were familiar were yellow in color. Tomatoes made their way to North America with the colonists who first settled in Virginia, yet did not readily gain popularity until the late nineteenth century.

Part of the reason may have been the widely held belief in North America that tomatoes were poisonous, even though by that time they had become a dietary staple in many parts of Europe. It wasn’t until 1820, when Robert Gibbon Johnson ate a tomato on the courthouse steps in Salem, Indiana, that the “poisonous tomato” barrier was broken.

Since new varieties have been developed and more efficient means of transportation established, tomatoes have become one of the top-selling vegetables in the United States. Today, the United States, the Russian Federation, Italy, Spain, China, and Turkey are among the top-selling commercial producers of tomatoes.

Tomato Varieties

There are hundreds of tomato varieties. From marble-sized grape or cherry tomatoes, to juicy salad tomatoes, meaty paste tomatoes, and huge, sweet, beefsteak tomatoes. Their colors range from deep crimson to orange, yellow, green, purple, and chocolate.

Determinate Tomatoes are bush types that grow 2-3 feet (60-90cm) tall, then the buds at the ends of all the branches form flowers instead of leaves. They flower all at once, set and ripen fruit, then die.

Indeterminate Tomatoes are vining types that need caging or staking for support, but will continue to grow and set fruit until frost kills them. They’re generally later than determinate tomatoes, and produce larger crops over a longer period.

Indeterminate tomatoes set flowers on lateral shoots off the main stems. If trained to a single or double leader and given support, many indeterminate tomato varieties can reach 8-10’ (1.5-3m) tall.

For the home gardener, mixing types of tomatoes spreads the fresh tomato harvest over the longest possible season. Plant determinate or early indeterminate tomato varieties for early summer tomatoes, and salad or beefsteak tomatoes for mid- and- late-summer harvest. If you like thick, rich tomato sauces, be sure to include some paste tomatoes in the mix.

Cherry and Grape Tomatoes

If you’re growing tomatoes for the first time, or growing tomatoes in pots, Cherry Tomatoes are a good place to start. Cherry and grape tomatoes are small, usually less than 1” (2.5cm), and grow in large clusters.

Cherry tomatoes are generally the best choices for cool, alpine, or short-summer gardens, and small fruit size means they’re more suitable if you’re growing tomatoes in containers. They tend to have better disease resistance than larger tomato varieties, and they’re more forgiving of drought stress and poor soil.

They’re also a hit with toddlers and kids, so if you’re trying to instill an appreciation for fresh foods in your kids, growing cherry tomatoes is a good start.

Sweet 100’ (F1 hybrid, Indeterminate, 65-70 days) is a great-tasting, prolific cherry tomato. The vigorous indeterminate vines produce dozens of irresistibly sweet, bite-sized tomatoes on long trusses.

Sungold’ (F1 hybrid, Indeterminate, 65 days, resistant to verticilium and fusarium wilts 1 and 2) produces sweet, orange, 1” (2.5cm) tomatoes that are perfect for salads. Its vigorous, indeterminate vines start producing early, and keep producing till first frost.

‘Black Cherry’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate, 70 days) has large clusters of 1”, deep purplish-red fruit with true tomato taste, not just sweetness. Great resistance to diseases for an heirloom tomato.

Salad Tomatoes

Salad Tomatoes form 2-3” (5-7.5cm) diameter fruit, perfect for slicing on sandwiches or chopping into salads. They’re usually a little tarter and juicier than cherry tomatoes or beefsteak tomatoes, with some acid to balance their sweetness. Some have undertones of tropical fruits.

Salad tomatoes make a great, quick tomato sauce, but if they’re really juicy you’ll have to cook them down to the right consistency.

Salad tomatoes have more cultivars than any other type of tomato. Here are a few favorites:

Pantano Romanesco’ (Heirloom, Indeterminate, 70-75 days) became one of our favorite red slicing tomatoes after our first season growing it. Pantano Romanesco has the perfect balance between sweetness and citrussy tartness, a wonderful tomato.

Green Zebra’ (Heirloom, Indeterminate, 70-75 days) is a tart, pale green 2-4″ (5-10 cm) tomato with darker green stripes that’s among the best heirloom salad tomatoes. Tomatoes are ripe when the shoulders have a yellowish cast. Fast-growing indeterminate vines.

Black Zebra’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate, 75-80 days) is similar to ‘Green Zebra’, but with deep, purplish-black flesh with red streaks, and great flavor. Vigorous indeterminate vines have good disease resistance for an heirloom.

Costoluto Genovese’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, 80-85 days) is so heavily ribbed that it looks misshapen, but these are some of the juiciest, best-tasting tomatoes you’ll ever grow. These twisted, deep red tomatoes have orange shoulders when they’re ripe, so don’t leave them on the vine too long—usually not a problem since they’re so good! A client favorite in spite of relatively low yields.

Sweet Clusters‘ (F1 hybrid, Indeterminate, 65-75 days) is one of the hothouse tomatoes you see in big, pricey clusters in the middle of winter. Vine-ripened in the summer, it’s almost like a different fruit. Perfect balance between sweetness, tartness, and tomato flavor. The vigorous vines are easy to train ‘Italian Grandfather Style’

Valencia‘ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate, 76 days) is a 2-3” (5-7.5cm) orange tomato with the texture—and flavor!—of a sweet, ripe mango, with a citrussy edge. Not too juicy, very few seeds. Indeterminate vines are shorter than most, so plant in front of taller varieties.

Carmello’ (F1 Hybrid, Indeterminate, 65-70 days) is a midsize, 3-4” (7-10cm) tomato with a nice balance between acidic and sweet. Very productive, indeterminate vines produce late into the season.

Stupice‘ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate potato-leafed, 60-65 days) produces deep-red, 2” (5cm), oblong tomatoes. Starts early and produces continuously for the whole summer, even in cool-summer gardens.

Early Girl‘ (F1 hybrid, Indeterminate, 80 days) is a great tomato for early harvest and northern or cool-summer gardens. It produces clusters of 1½-2” (4-5cm) deep-red fruits with just the right combination of sweetness and true tomato flavor.

Enchantment‘ (F1 hybrid, Indeterminate, 72 days, resistant to verticilium and fusarium wilts 1 and 2, nematodes, and tobacco mosaic virus) is a 3” (7.5cm), oval salad tomato that grows in fat clusters spiraling around the vine. One of the most versatile tomatoes you can grow, it has great flavor, but is not so juicy that you can’t make a quick sauce without having to cook off a lot of water. One of the best varieties for making oven-dried tomatoes. Vigorous indeterminate vines. May be susceptible to Blossom End Rot in hot or under-watered gardens. Seeds are getting hard to find.

Beefsteak Tomatoes

Beefsteak Tomatoes produce large, heavy fruit. These are the big, thick, meaty tomatoes that are so prized for sandwiches—and one of the main reasons for growing tomatoes. Some varieties reach 6” (15cm) in diameter, and can weigh in from 1-3 lbs (0.45-1.4 kg).

Beefsteak tomatoes need a longer growing season and more heat than smaller varieties, so they may not be suitable for short-summer or cool-summer gardens.

Big Beef’ (F1 hybrid, 75-80 days, resists verticillium and fusarium wilts 1 and 2, nematodes, and tobacco mosaic virus) is an early beefsteak variety that’s a good choice for growing tomatoes in cooler climates. 4-6” (10-15cm) tomatoes, firm texture, good tomato flavor. Good performer in most areas.

Brandywine Pink’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate potato-leafed, 85 days) is a classic beefsteak tomato. They have great flavor and consistently win tomato tastings, but they’re not very productive

Cherokee Purple’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate, 85 days) has a smokey sweetness that makes it a client favorite year after year. Plants are not as productive as other beefsteak varieties, but even clients with limited space request this variety.

Caspian Pink’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate potato-leafed, 85 days) is a classic beefsteak tomato, juicy and sweet. My wife’s favorite tomato.

Hillbilly’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate, 85 days) is an orange heirloom beefsteak tomato with red streaks through its flesh, almost like a peach. Beautiful sliced on a sandwich or cut in large wedges.

Black Krim’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate, 85 days) is one of the most flavorful heirloom beefsteak tomatoes. Large, sweet, reddish-purple fruits are beautiful sliced or cut in wedges. Clients request this variety year after year.

Mortgage Lifter’ (Heirloom—Open Pollinated, Indeterminate, 85 days) is a huge red heirloom beefsteak tomato that produces heavy yields on strong, indeterminate vines. Fruits weigh as much as 2 lbs.

Roma (Paste) Tomatoes

Roma (Paste) Tomatoes are dense Italian plum tomatoes like San Marzano, with sweet, firm flesh, high pectin content, not much juice, and few seeds…the perfect sauce tomato, since it thickens naturally and needs less cooking time to evaporate off excess moisture.

Their low moisture content gives them extended fresh storage time, and they’re great for drying or topping pizzas.

Big Mama’ (F1 hybrid, Indeterminate, 80 days produces huge (3″ x 5″–7 x 13cm), heavy paste tomatoes that make excellent sauce, especially if sliced in half and fire-roasted first.

San Marzano’ (F1 hybrid, Indeterminate, 85 days, resistant to verticilium and fusarium wilt 1, tobacco mosaic virus, nematodes, and bacterial speck) produces high yields of heavy, 1 ½ x 5” (4 x 12cm) fruits. Vigorous indeterminate plants.

Hybrid vs. Heirloom Tomato Varieties

Hybrid Tomato Varieties are bred for higher yields, disease resistance, ease of harvesting, or—in the worst case—extended shelf life.

Hybrid tomato varieties are crosses between different cultivars, and there’s little chance they’ll produce true to form from saved seeds—they usually revert to one of the parents, or some random combination of traits instead of the ones selected to increase yield and performance.

For decades, plant breeders and seed companies focused on producing tomatoes that work with large-scale, mechanized production. That meant determinate tomatoes, which are easier and more predictable to harvest, but they went a step further and selected for tomatoes with thick skins and less moisture.

The most egregious example is the “12-mile-an-hour” tomato. These “tomatoes” were bred to withstand the impact of the mechanical tomato harvester (12 miles per hour). They’re harvested just as they’re turning pink, and gassed with ethylene gas to give them a reddish color. Unlike any real tomato, these will last for months after harvest.

Such “tomatoes” are easier to harvest and get to market, so they gradually displaced better tomatoes in supermarkets, and consumers came to accept these mealy imposters because they had no other choice.

Fortunately, home gardeners have always had a choice. If a hybrid tasted great or produced prodigiously, they’d plant it, but if it was mealy and bland, they could ask Mrs. Potreli down the street for some seeds for those rambling, tasty tomatoes from her garden.

Heirloom tomato varieties, prized for superior flavor or excellent performance under local conditions, have been passed down through families or from neighbor to neighbor and saved for generations. Heirloom tomato varieties are “open-pollinated”, meaning they’ll reproduce true to form from saved seeds.

These juicy, thin-skinned beauties can’t be shipped long distances, so large-scale tomato farmers—and companies that supply them seed—ignored them. Fortunately, home gardeners and local farmers preserved many from extinction, and thanks to organizations like the Seed Savers Exchange, they’re now more widely available.

When I started growing tomatoes organically, farmers and seed companies were asleep at the switch, and we were losing tomato cultivars at an alarming rate. Planting hybrid tomatoes was considered immoral, a capitulation to agribusiness seed companies.

Now, with the rise of the chef-driven local foods movement and the revitalization of farmers markets and small-scale vegetable farming and gardening, heirloom tomato varieties are avidly pursued, not just preserved.

Some organic gardeners remain heirloom tomato purists, and turn their noses up at the thought of growing hybrid tomato varieties, or hybrid varieties of any vegetable.

I am not among them. I’ve always grown tomatoes in challenging, cool-summer climates, where a limited number of tomatoes will work. If an heirloom variety produces well in my climate, I’m happy to grow it, but I’m just as happy growing a hybrid tomato variety that produces bumper crops of delicious tomatoes.

Such “tomatoes” are easier to harvest and get to market, so they gradually displaced better tomatoes in supermarkets, and consumers came to accept these mealy imposters because they had no other choice.

Fortunately, home gardeners have always had a choice. If a hybrid tasted great or produced prodigiously, they’d plant it, but if it was mealy and bland, they could ask Mrs. Potreli down the street for some seeds for those rambling, tasty tomatoes from her garden.

Heirloom tomato varieties, prized for superior flavor or excellent performance under local conditions, have been passed down through families or from neighbor to neighbor and saved for generations. Heirloom tomato varieties are “open-pollinated”, meaning they’ll reproduce true to form from saved seeds.

These juicy, thin-skinned beauties can’t be shipped long distances, so large-scale tomato farmers—and companies that supply them seed—ignored them. Fortunately, home gardeners and local farmers preserved many from extinction, and thanks to organizations like the Seed Savers Exchange, they’re now more widely available.

When I started growing tomatoes organically, farmers and seed companies were asleep at the switch, and we were losing tomato cultivars at an alarming rate. Planting hybrid tomatoes was considered immoral, a capitulation to agribusiness seed companies.

Nutritional Highlights of Tomatoes

The tomato is a low-calorie food packed with nutrition, especially when fully ripe. For example, red tomatoes have up to four times the amount of beta-carotene as green tomatoes. Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, carotenes (especially lycopene), biotin, and vitamin K. They are also a very good source of vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, niacin, folic acid, and dietary fiber. A 100 gram serving of cooked tomato provides 32 calories with 2 grams of fiber.

Nutrition Facts: Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw – 100 grams

Water95 %
Protein0.9 g
Carbs3.9 g
Sugar2.6 g
Fiber1.2 g
Fat0.2 g
Saturated0.03 g
Monounsaturated0.03 g
Polyunsaturated0.08 g
Omega-30 g
Omega-60.08 g
Trans fat~


Carbohydrates make up 4% of raw tomatoes, which amounts to less than 5 grams of carbs for an average sized tomato (123 grams). Simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose, make up almost 70% of the carbohydrate content.


Tomatoes are a good source of fiber, providing about 1.5 grams per average sized tomato. Most of the fibers (87%) in tomatoes are insoluble, in the form of hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin.

Vitamins and Minerals

Tomatoes are a good source of several vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C: An essential nutrient and antioxidant. One medium sized tomato can provide about 28% of the recommended daily intake.

Potassium: An essential mineral, beneficial for blood pressure control and cardiovascular disease prevention.

Vitamin K1: Also known as phylloquinone, vitamin K is important for blood coagulation and bone health.

Folate B9: One of the B-vitamins, important for normal tissue growth and cell function. It is particularly important for pregnant women.

Other Plant Compounds

The content of vitamins and plant compounds can vary greatly between different tomato varieties and sampling periods.

Here is a list of the main plant compounds in tomatoes.

Lycopene: A red pigment and antioxidant, which has been extensively studied for its beneficial health effects.

Beta-Carotene: A yellow antioxidant, which is converted into vitamin A in the body.

Naringenin: Found in tomato skin, this flavonoid has been shown to decrease inflammation and protect against various diseases in mice.

Chlorogenic acid: A powerful antioxidant compound, which may lower blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure.
Chlorophylls and carotenoids are responsible for the color of tomatoes.

When the ripening process starts, the chlorophyll (green) is degraded and carotenoids (red) are synthesized.

Health Benefits of Tomatoes

The health-promoting ability of tomatoes has received a lot of attention recently because of their lycopene content. This red carotene has been shown to be extremely protective against breast, colon, lung, skin, and prostate cancers. It has also been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

Lycopene helps prevent these diseases and others by neutralizing harmful oxygen free radicals before they can do damage to cellular structures. In one of the more detailed studies, Harvard researchers discovered that men who consumed the highest levels of lycopene (6.5 milligrams per day) in their diet showed a 21 percent decreased risk of prostate cancer compared with those eating the lowest levels.

Men who ate two or more servings of tomato sauce each week were 23 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer during the twenty-two years of the study than men who ate less than one serving of tomato sauce each month. In another study, lycopene supplementation (15 milligrams per day) given to patients with existing prostate cancer was shown to slow tumor growth, shrink the tumor, and lower the level of PSA (prostate-specific antigen, a marker of cancer activity) by 18 percent.

The amount of lycopene in tomatoes can vary significantly, depending upon the type of tomato and how ripe it is. In the reddest strains, lycopene concentration is close to 50 milligrams per kilogram, compared with only 5 milligrams per kilogram in the yellow strains. Lycopene appears to be relatively stable during cooking and food processing. In fact, you actually get up to five times as much lycopene from tomato paste or juice as you do from raw tomatoes, because processing “liberates” more lycopene from the plant’s cells. Eating a lycopene source with oil, such as olive oil, can also improve its absorption.

Antioxidant Agent

Tomato contains a large amount of lycopene, an antioxidant that is highly effective in scavenging cancer-causing free radicals. This benefit can even be obtained from heat-processed tomato products like ketchup. The lycopene in tomatoes defends against cancer and has been shown to be effective in fighting prostate cancer, cervical cancer, cancer of the stomach and rectum as well as pharynx and esophageal cancers. It also protects against breast and mouth cancer, according to studies published by the Harvard School of Public Health.

Rich Source of Vitamins and Minerals

A single tomato can provide about 40% of the daily vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant which prevents cancer-causing free radicals from damaging the body’s systems. It also contains abundant vitamin A and potassium, as well as iron. Potassium plays a vital role in maintaining nerve health and iron is essential for maintaining normal blood circulation. Vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting and controlling bleeding, is also abundant in tomatoes.

Protect the Heart

The lycopene in tomatoes prevents serum lipid oxidation, thus exerting a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases . A regular consumption of tomatoes has been proven to decrease the levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. These lipids are the key culprits in cardiovascular diseases and lead to the deposition of fats in the blood vessels.

Counter the Effect of Smoking Cigarette

The coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid, in tomatoes, fight against nitrosamines, which are the main carcinogens found in cigarettes. The presence of vitamin A in high quantities has been shown to reduce the effects of carcinogens and can protect you against lung cancer.

Improve Vision

Vitamin A, present in tomatoes, aids in improving vision and preventing night-blindness and macular degeneration. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that can be formed from an excess of beta-carotene in the body. A lot of vision problems occur due to the negative effects of free radicals and vitamin A, being a powerful antioxidant, can help prevent them.

Aid in Digestion

Tomatoes keep the digestive system healthy by preventing both constipation and diarrhea. They also prevent jaundice and effectively remove toxins from the body. Furthermore, they have a large amount [4] of fiber, which can bulk the bowels and reduce symptoms of constipation. A healthy amount of fiber helps stimulate peristaltic motion in the smooth digestive muscles and release gastric and digestive juices. This can regulate your bowel movements, thereby improving your overall digestive health and helping you avoid conditions like colorectal cancer.

Lower Hypertension

Consuming a tomato daily reduces the risk of developing hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. This is partially due to the impressive levels of potassium found in tomatoes. Potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it reduces the tension in blood vessels and arteries, thereby increasing circulation and lowering the stress on the heart by eliminating hypertension.

Manage Diabetes

A study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that daily consumption of tomatoes reduces the oxidative stress of type 2 diabetes.

Skin Care

Tomatoes aid in maintaining healthy teeth, bones, hair, and skin. Topical application of tomato juice is even known to cure severe sunburns. Daily consumption protects the skin against UV-induced erythema. They rank high in the preparation of anti-aging products.

Prevent Urinary Tract Infections

Tomato intake reduces the incidence of urinary tract infections, as well as bladder cancer. This is because tomatoes are high in water content, which can stimulate urination; hence, they are a diuretic. This increases the elimination of toxins from the body, as well as excess water, salts, uric acid, and some fats as well!

Prevent Gallstones

Regular consumption of tomatoes can provide relief from gallstones. There have been various studies to prove their efficacy against many chronic diseases and varieties of cancer. The antioxidant properties of tomatoes can also be derived from processed foods like ketchup and purees. Daily consumption of tomatoes fulfills the requirement of vitamins and minerals and exerts an overall protective effect on the body.


Adequate folate intake is essential before and during pregnancy to protect against neural tube defects in infants. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. It is available in supplements but can also be boosted through dietary measures.

While it is recommended that women who are pregnant take a folic acid supplement, tomatoes are a great source of naturally-occurring folate. This applies equally for women who may become pregnant in the near future.

How To Select And Store Tomatoes

Good-quality tomatoes are well formed and plump, fully colored, firm, and free from bruise marks. Avoid tomatoes that are soft or show signs of bruising or decay. They should not have a puffy appearance, since this indicates that they will be of inferior flavor and will also cause excess waste during preparation due to their higher water content. Ripe tomatoes will yield to slight pressure and will have a noticeably sweet fragrance.

When buying canned tomatoes, it is often better to buy those that are produced in the United States or E.U., as many countries do not have strict standards for lead content in containers. This is especially important with a fruit such as tomatoes, whose high acid content can cause corrosion and subsequent migration into the foods of the metal with which it is in contact.

Since tomatoes are sensitive to cold and it will impede their ripening process, store them at room temperature and out of direct exposure to sunlight. They will keep for up to one week, depending upon how ripe they are when purchased. To hasten the ripening process, place them in a paper bag with a banana or apple, since the ethylene gas that these fruits emit will hasten the tomatoes’ maturation. If the tomatoes begin to become overripe but you are not yet ready to eat them, place them in the refrigerator (if possible, in the butter compartment, which is a warmer area), where they will keep for one to two more days.

Removing them from the refrigerator about thirty minutes before using will help them to regain their maximum flavor and juiciness. Whole tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, and tomato sauce freeze well for future use in cooked dishes. Sun-dried tomatoes should be stored in an airtight container, with or without olive oil, in a cool dry place. Cooked tomatoes will keep for five to seven days refrigerated.

Tips For Preparing Tomatoes

Soak tomatoes in cold water with a mild solution of additive-free soap or produce wash, rinse under cool running water, and pat dry. It is better to cut tomatoes vertically, rather than horizontally, as this process will allow them to better retain their juice and seeds.

Sometimes recipes call for peeled tomatoes. The easiest way to do this is to first blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 15 to 30 seconds. After carefully removing them, place them in a colander in the sink and rinse them briefly under cold running water. Use a paring knife to gently remove the skin, which should now come off rather easily.


If your recipe requires seeded tomatoes, cut the fruit in half horizontally and gently squeeze out the seeds and the juice. Any remaining seeds can be extracted by hand or with a small spoon. It is especially important when cooking tomatoes not to use aluminum cookware, since the high acid content of tomatoes will interact with the metal. This may result in the migration of the aluminum into the tomatoes, which will not only impart an unpleasant taste but, more important, may have deleterious effects on your health.

Quick Serving Ideas for Tomatoes

  • ‘ Tomatoes are a nutritious addition to salads and soups. To make things colorful, use yellow, green, and purple tomatoes in addition to the red varieties.
    ‘ Slice a variety of tomatoes (red, yellow, and orange) and top with balsamic vinegar and olive oil for a quick and nutritious salad.
  • For a quick salsa dip, combine chopped onions, tomatoes, and chili peppers.
  • Purée tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and spring onions together in a food processor and season with herbs and spices of your choice to make the refreshing cold soup gazpacho.
    Add tomato slices to sandwiches and salads.

Tomato Facts

Slice them for sandwiches, toss them in salads, cook them into sauces or squeeze them for juice: tomatoes are delicious and good for us, packed with vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, and lycopene.

Think you know all about tomatoes? Read on, and discover some fun facts.

  • Eating cooked tomatoes may act as a kind of internal sunscreen, according to researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Newcastle, England, by helping block UV rays. But eating tomatoes is only a supplement to using sunscreens, they caution, not a replacement.
  • You can save the seeds from hybrid tomatoes, but you won’t grow tomatoes exactly like the ones you started with. To get identical tomatoes, grow seeds from heirlooms.
  • Botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit. The government classified it as a vegetable in the late 1800s so it could be taxed under custom regulations.
  • According to the USDA, Americans eat 22-24 pounds of tomatoes per person, per year. About half of that comes in the form of ketchup and tomato sauce.
  • A whopping 93% of American gardeners grow tomatoes in their yards.
  • China is the number one producer of tomatoes around the world. The U.S. is second.
  • Forget the orange juice. Florida grows more tomatoes than any other state.
  • It’s thought that tomatoes originated in Peru, where their Aztec name meant, “plump thing with a navel.”
  • The world’s largest tomato tree was grown in the experimental greenhouse at Walt Disney World Resort. It produced over 32,000 tomatoes in the first 16 months after it was planted, and holds the record for the most tomatoes in a single year, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
  • The scientific name for the tomato is Lycopersicon lycopersicum, which means, “wolf peach.”
  • Colonial American gardeners grew tomatoes for their looks, but were afraid to eat them, perhaps because the plants resembled deadly nightshade.
  • New Jersey calls the tomato its state vegetable. Arkansas uses tomatoes as both the state fruit and the state vegetable.

Growing Tomato Plants

How to Choose Tomatoes

  • Choosing tomato varieties can be confusing because there are so many, so use our Tomato Chooser to help you pick the best for your garden.
  • Our article “Learn Tomato Terms” explains some basic (but important) tomato terms, such as hybrid, indeterminate vs. determinate, and VFN (disease resistance).
  • It’s a good idea to grow a range of varieties, including at least one or two disease-resistant types, since, of all veggies, tomatoes tend to be the most susceptible to disease.

How to Plant and Care for Tomatoes

  • Tomatoes run on warmth; plant in late spring and early summer except in zone 10, where they are a fall and winter crop.
  • Devote a prime, sunny spot to growing tomatoes. Tomatoes need at least 6 to 8 hours of sun to bring out their best flavors.
  • You will need to stake, trellis, or cage most tomato plants to keep them off the ground. Decide on a support plan before you set out your plants, then add that support directly after planting.
  • Give each plant enough room to grow. Space robust, long-vined, indeterminate varieties about 3 feet apart. Stockier determinate plants can be grown 2 feet apart. If growing in containers, you’ll need at least a 24-inch pot for an indeterminate variety, or an 18-inch pot for a determinate variety. Be sure to fill containers with premium quality potting mix, such as Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix, for best growth.
  • Tomatoes take up nutrients best when the soil pH ranges from 6.2 to 6.8, and they need a constant supply of major and minor plant nutrients. To provide needed nutrients, mix a continuous-release fertilizer with calcium, like Miracle-Gro® Shake ‘n Feed® Tomato, Fruit & Vegetable Plant Food, into the soil as you prepare the planting holes. (Be sure to read and follow all directions.) This will help protect fruit from blossom end rot, a problem that can occur when the plant isn’t getting enough calcium.
  • At the same time, mix in 3 to 4 inches of compost, which will provide minor nutrients and help hold moisture and fertilizer in the soil until it is needed by the plants.
  • To grow a really strong tomato plant, we recommend burying two-thirds of the stem when planting. This crucial step will allow the plant to sprout roots along the buried stem, so your plant will be stronger and better able to find water in a drought. Please note that this deep-planting method only works with tomatoes (and tomatillos), not other veggies.
  • Immediately after planting, water seedlings to help settle them in.
  • You can combine fast-maturing varieties with special season-stretching techniques to grow an early crop, but wait until the last frost has passed to plant main-season tomatoes.
  • Cover the ground with 2 to 4 inches of mulch to minimize weeds and help keep the soil evenly moist. Straw and shredded leaves make great mulches for tomatoes.
  • Water regularly, aiming for at least an inch of moisture per week (through rain or watering), more in the summertime. Feel the soil; if the top inch is dry, it’s time to water.

How to Troubleshoot Tomato Problems

  • As summer heats up, some tomatoes have trouble setting fruit. Be patient, and you will start seeing little green tomatoes again when nights begin cooling down. Meanwhile, promptly harvest ripe tomatoes to relieve stressed plants of their heavy burden. If you live in an area in which summertime temperatures are typically in the 90s, be sure to choose some heat-tolerant tomato varieties, bred for their ability to set fruit under high temperatures.
  • If summer droughts are common in your area, or you tend to forget to water, use soaker hoses, drip irrigation, or other drought-busting techniques to help maintain even soil moisture. Not only will this help prevent cracked fruits, but also help keep blossom end rot at bay. (Moisture fluctuations can reduce the amount of calcium the plant is able to take up, which can lead to blossom end rot.)
  • Humid weather creates ideal conditions for fungal diseases like early blight, which causes dark spots to first form on lower leaves. Be sure to remove any unhealthy looking or diseased leaves throughout the season. Late blight is a more devastating disease that kills plants quickly; the only way to control it is to protect against it by spraying the leaves with an approved fungicide such as chlorothalonil or copper, and to keep the garden clean of plant debris.
  • You’ll also want to be on the lookout for pests. In mid-summer, for example, big green caterpillars called tomato horn worms eat tomato foliage and sometimes damage fruits. One or two horn worms can strip a plant leafless in short order! Deal with pests as soon as you spot them.
  • By late summer, plants that began producing early in the season will show signs of exhaustion. With just a little effort, you can extend the life of those sad tomato plants by pruning away withered leaves and branches. Then follow up with liquid plant food and treatments for leaf diseases or insects, if needed.
    Check out our article on Tomato Quirks for more troubleshooting information.

How to Harvest and Store Tomatoes

  • As tomatoes begin to ripen, their color changes from vibrant medium-green to a lighter shade, with faint pink or yellow blushing. These “breakers,” or mature green tomatoes, can be chopped into salsas, pickled, or pan-fried into a crispy appetizer. Yet tomato flavors become much more complex as the fruits ripen, so you have good reason to wait. The exact signs of ripeness vary with variety, but in general, perfectly ripe tomatoes show deep color yet still feel firm when gently squeezed.
  • Store picked tomatoes at room temperature indoors, or in a shady place outside. Never refrigerate tomatoes, because temperatures below 55° cause the precious flavor compounds to break down.
  • Bumper crops can be frozen, canned, or dried for future use.

How to Identify Plant Diseases and Their Control Methods

Tomato growers are a passionate bunch. Some of us spend long hours combing over seed catalogs and nursery benches full of plants to select the perfect tomato varieties for our garden. We plant, tend, prune, fertilize, stake, and otherwise care for our tomato plants with a dedication rivaled only by our dedication to our human family. But, even with all that care and attention, sometimes a tomato plant disease strikes our garden. Today, let’s review some of the most common tomato plant diseases and discuss ways to prevent and manage them, without resorting to synthetic chemicals for control.

Types of tomato diseases
Unfortunately, there are several pathogens that can cause tomato plant disease. I’m going to introduce you to several specific tomato diseases later in this article, but before I get to that, it’s important to talk briefly about the different types of pathogens and how to prevent them from striking your garden in the first place.

Some tomato disease pathogens are fungal organisms while others are bacterial or even viral. Different regions of North America are affected by different tomato pathogens, and rates of infection are dependant on many factors, including wind patterns, temperature, humidity, varietal resistance, and plant health, to name just a few. It’s important to remember that tomato plants that are healthy and properly cared for will often show more resistance to tomato plant disease, so ensuring your tomato crop has ample moisture and healthy, fertile soil is a must.

Preventing tomato plant disease
Other than making sure your tomato plants are happy and healthy, there are a few other things you can do to help prevent tomato plant diseases. Here are nine tips to get you started on the road to disease-free, productive tomato plants:

  1. Rotate your crops. Since many tomato pathogens live in the soil, plant tomatoes in a different spot in the garden each year.
  2. Pinch off leaves with any signs of disease immediate and dispose of them in the trash to keep a possible infection from spreading.
  3. Don’t work in the garden when tomato foliage is wet or you may inadvertently spread pathogens from plant to plant.
  4. Choose disease-resistant varieties when selecting which types of tomatoes to grow.
  5. Remove all diseased tomato plant debris at the end of the growing season and burn it or toss it in the trash. Do not put diseased foliage in the compost pile.
  6. Provide adequate air circulation around each plant. Space tomato plants 5 to 6 feet apart.
  7. Mulch your tomato plants well at the start of the season. Two or three inches of compost, leaf mold, straw, or hay serves to keep soil-dwelling fungal spores from splashing up onto the lower leaves when it rains.
  8. Try to keep the foliage dry whenever possible. Hand irrigation or soaker hoses allow you to target the water on the root zone. The splash from overhead sprinklers can spread disease and wet foliage promotes fungal issues.
  9. Disinfect the empty pots if you grow your tomatoes in containers, using a 10% bleach solution at the end of the growing season and replace the spent potting soil with a new mix every spring.

Common tomato plant diseases and their contorl Measures

Despite your best efforts at preventing tomato diseases, they may still get a foothold in your garden from time to time. Here’s the low-down on six of the most common tomato plant diseases with information on identifying, preventing, and managing each of them.

Early blight

Identify: This common tomato plant disease appears as bulls-eye-shaped brown spots on the lower leaves of a plant. Often the tissue around the spots will turn yellow. Eventually, infected leaves will fall off the plant. In most cases, the tomatoes will continue to ripen, even as the disease symptoms progress up the plant.

Prevent: The early blight pathogen (Alternaria solani) lives in the soil and once a garden has shown signs of the early blight fungus, it’s there to stay because the organism easily overwinters in the soil, even in very cold climates. Fortunately, most tomatoes will continue to produce even with moderately severe cases of early blight. To prevent this tomato fungal disease, mulch plants with a layer of newspaper topped with untreated grass clippings, straw, leaf mold, or finished compost immediately after they are planted. This mulch forms a protective barrier, preventing the soil-dwelling spores from splashing up out of the soil and onto the plant.

Manage: Once the fungus strikes, organic fungicides based on Bacillus subtilis or copper can help prevent or stop the spread of this tomato plant disease. Bicarbonate fungicides are also effective (including BiCarb, GreenCure, etc).

Fusarium wilt

Identify: The pathogen that causes Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum) is generally more common in warm, southern regions where this tomato plant disease can wipe out entire fields. Symptoms include drooping leaf stems. Sometimes an entire branch may wilt, often starting with the lower portion of the plant and then progressing upwards until the whole plant collapses. To confirm an infection, cut the main stem of the plant open and look for dark streaks running lengthwise through the stem. Sometimes there are also dark cankers at the base of the plant

Prevent: The spores of this tomato plant disease live in the soil and can survive for many years. They’re spread by equipment, water, plant debris, and even people and animals. The best method of prevention is to plant resistant varieties if you’ve had trouble with Fusarium wilt in the past. Also disinfect tomato cages and stakes with a 10% bleach solution at the end of every season.

Manage: Once this tomato plant disease strikes, there’s little you can do to control it. Instead, focus on preventing it for future years. Soil solarization can help kill fungal spores in the top few inches of soil, and crop rotation is key. There are also several biological fungicidal drenches that can be applied to soil (look for one based on the bacteria Streptomyces griseoviridis called MycoStop or a granular one based on the fungus Trichoderma virens called Soil Guard). These products may help prevent the infection from colonizing the roots of future crops.

Late blight

Identify: Late blight (Phytophthora infestans) is among the most destructive tomato plant diseases. Thankfully, it’s not very common, especially in the north where it doesn’t survive winter’s freezing temperatures without a host plant. Late blight is caused by a fungus, and it creates irregularly shaped splotches that are slimy and water-soaked. Often, the splotches occur on the top-most leaves and stems first. Eventually, entire stems “rot” on the vine, turning black and slimy. There may also be patches of white spores on the leaf undersides. In the north, the pathogen overwinters in buried potato tubers. In the south, it easily survives the winter.

Prevent: The spores of this disease are fast-spreading, moving on the wind for miles. If you live in the northern half of the continent, do not purchase potatoes and tomatoes that were grown in the south as you may inadvertently introduce late blight spores to your garden. This is not a common pathogen, but if late blight is reported in your area, there is little you can do to prevent the disease because the spores spread so rapidly. Plant only locally grown plants to help keep the pathogen out of your area.

Manage: Once late blight strikes, there is little you can do. Tear out the plants, put them in a garbage bag, and throw them out to keep the disease from spreading. Organic fungicides based on Bacillus subtilis are somewhat effective in preventing this tomato plant disease when it’s first discovered in your area.

Septoria leaf spot

Identifiy: Appearing as tiny, round splotches on the leaves, this tomato disease (Septoria lycopersici) typically starts on the lowest leaves first. The spots have dark brown edges and lighter centers, and there are usually many spots on each leaf. Infected leaves eventually turn yellow and then brown, and fall off.

Prevent: Remove diseased tomato plants at the end of the season to prevent the spores from overwintering in the garden. Cut off and destroy infected leaves as soon as you spot them and disinfect pruning equipment before moving from one plant to another.

Manage: Organic fungicides based on copper or Bacillus subtilis are effective against septoria leaf spot, especially when used as a preventative measure.

Southern bacterial wilt

Identify: Unfortunately, once present, Southern bacterial wilt (Ralstonia solanacearum) is a tomato plant disease that spreads like wildfire. It’s soil-borne, but the bacteria that cause this tomato disease can travel by soil, water, plant debris, and even on clothes, tools, and skin. It’s naturally found in tropical regions and greenhouses, but it can arrive in the garden via infected plants that were purchased from other areas. Initial symptoms include the wilting of just a few leaves on a plant, while the rest of the foliage appears healthy. Over time, more and more leaves wilt and turn yellow until all the leaves succumb, though the stem remains upright. Slimy ooze threads out of the cut stems, and when they’re placed in water, milky streams of bacteria stream out of the cut.

Prevent: Southern bacterial wilt is soil borne and can survive for long periods in the soil on roots and plant debris. Like many other tomato diseases, it favors high temperatures and high humidity. The best way to prevent this disease is to purchase and plant only locally grown plants, or grow your own plants from seed. Southern bacterial wilt is more common in warmer regions, but has been found in Massachusetts and other northern regions as well.

Manage: There is no cure for this disease. Once confirmed, infected plants must immediately be removed and discarded in the trash.

Verticillium wilt

Identify: This fungal disease is caused by several soil-borne pathogens (Verticillium spp.). When present in a tomato plant, they block the vascular tissue in the plant and cause the leaves and stems to wilt. Symptoms progress slowly, often one stem at a time. Eventually, the entire plant yellows and withers. To confirm diagnosis, cut through the main stem of the plant and look for dark brown discoloration inside. Verticillum wilt is most problematic in late summer.

Prevent: Verticillium fungi can survive for many years in the soil and on plants. They thrive in slightly cooler summer temperatures (between 70 and 80 degrees F). Plant only resistant varieties.

Manage: Once verticillium wilt occurs, there’s little you can do to control the current year’s infection. Instead, focus on preventing this tomato plant disease in future years. Soil solarization will help kill the fungal spores in the top few inches of soil. Practice crop rotation: do not plant other members of the same plant family in that same planting area for at least four years after the infection.

With an eye toward prevention and employing early management practices as soon as a disease is spotted, you’ll be able to grow a terrific crop of tomatoes each and every season.

Blossom End Rot

What it looks like: The tomato plants appear healthy, but as the tomatoes ripen, an ugly black patch appears on the bottoms. The black spots on tomatoes look leathery. When you try to cut off the patch to eat the tomato, the fruit inside looks mealy.

What causes it: Your plants aren’t getting enough calcium. There’s either not enough calcium in the soil, or the pH is too low for the plant to absorb the calcium available. Tomatoes need a soil pH around 6.5 in order to grow properly. This soil pH level also makes it possible for them to absorb calcium. Uneven watering habits also contribute to this problem. Hot, dry spells tend to exacerbate blossom end rot.

What to do about it: Before planting tomatoes in the spring, have your local garden center or Cooperative Extension conduct a soil test. Tell them you’ve had problems with blossom end rot in the past, and they will give you recommendations on the amendments to add to your soil. Lime and gypsum may be added for calcium, but they must be added in the proper amounts depending on your soil’s condition.

That’s why a soil test is necessary. Adding crushed eggshells to your compost pile can also boost calcium naturally when you add compost to the soil. A foliar spray containing calcium chloride can prevent blossom end rot from developing on tomatoes mid-season. Apply it early in the morning or late in the day — if sprayed onto leaves midday, it can burn them. Water plants regularly at the same time daily to ensure even application of water.

Blossom Drop

What it looks like: Flowers appear on your tomato plants, but they fall off without tomatoes developing.

What causes it: Temperature fluctuations cause blossom drop. Tomatoes need night temperatures between 55 to 75 degrees F in order to retain their flowers. If the temperatures fall outside this range, blossom drop occurs. Other reasons for blossom drop on tomatoes are insect damage, lack of water, too much or too little nitrogen, and lack of pollination.

What to do about it: While you can’t change the weather, you can make sure the rest of the plant is strong by using fertilizer for tomatoes, drawing pollinators by planting milkweed and cosmos, and using neem oil insecticides.

Fruit Cracks

What they look like: Cracks appear on ripe tomatoes, usually in concentric circles. Sometimes insects use the cracks as an opportunity to eat the fruit, or birds attack cracked fruit.

What causes them: Hot, rainy weather causes fruit crack. After a long dry spell, tomatoes are thirsty. Plants may take up water rapidly after the first heavy rainfall, which swells the fruit and causes it to crack.

What to do about them: Although you can’t control the rain, you can water tomatoes evenly during the growing season. This prevents them from being so thirsty that they take up too much rainwater during a heavy downpour.


What it looks like: The plants look healthy, and the fruit develops normally. As tomatoes ripen, yellow patches form on the red skin. Yellow patches turn white and paper-thin, creating an unpleasant appearance and poor taste.

What causes it: As the name implies, the sun’s rays have actually scalded the tomato.

What to do about it: Tomato cages, or a wire support system that surrounds the plants, give the best branch support while shading the developing tomatoes naturally. Sunscald usually occurs on staked plants that have been too-vigorously pruned, exposing many of the tomatoes to the sun’s rays. Leaving some foliage and branches provides shade during the hottest part of the day.

Poor Fruit Set

What it looks like: You have some flowers but not many tomatoes. The tomatoes you do have on the plant are small or tasteless.

What causes it: Too much nitrogen in the soil encourages plenty of green leaves but not many flowers. If there aren’t enough flowers, there won’t be enough tomatoes. Another cause may be planting tomatoes too closely together. Tomatoes are self-pollinating, meaning that each flower contains both the male (stamens) and female (pistils) parts. Wind typically pollinates tomatoes, but if plants are too close together, the wind can’t reach the flowers.

What to do about it: Have your soil tested. If you’re planting tomatoes in the spring, leave at least two feet or more between plants so that good air circulation can help pollinate them. If your plants are already in the garden, you can simply shake the flowering branches to simulate wind and get the pollen from the stamens to the pistils.


What it looks like: Catfacing makes tomatoes appear deformed. The blossom end is rippled, bumpy and lumpy.

What causes it: Plants pollinated during cool evenings, when the temperatures hover around 50 to 55 degrees F, are subject to catfacing. Blossoms fall off when temperatures drop too low. However, if the flower is pollinating before the petals begin to drop off, some stick to the developing tomato. This creates the lumps and bumps typical of catfacing.

What to do about it: If possible, plant tomatoes a little later in the season. Make sure the weather has truly warmed up enough to support proper tomato development. Devices such as a “Wall of Water” — a circle of water-filled plastic tubes — raise temperatures near the tomato and help keep them high enough on cold nights to prevent cold-related problems. Using black-plastic spread on the soil can also help. As the plastic heats during the day, it releases the heat back towards the plants at night. Black plastic can be used as a temporary measure until the temperatures warm up enough that it’s no longer needed.

Leaf Roll

What it looks like: Mature tomato plants suddenly curl their leaves, especially older leaves near the bottom. Leaves roll up from the outside towards the center. Sometimes up to 75% of the plant is affected.

What causes it: High temperatures, wet soil and too much pruning often result in leaf roll.

What to do about it: Although it looks ugly, leaf roll won’t affect tomato development, so you will still get edible tomatoes from your plants. Avoid over-pruning and make sure the soil drains excess water away.


What it looks like: The tomato plants look fine, they bloom according to schedule, and ripe red tomatoes are ready for harvest. When the tomato is sliced, the interior has large, open spaces and not much fruit inside. Tomatoes may feel light when harvested. The exterior of the tomato may have an angular, square-sided look.

What causes it: Under-fertilization, poor soil nutrition or inadequate pollination.

What to do about it: Make sure you are feeding your tomato plants throughout the season. A balanced fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 should be fed biweekly or monthly. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and need fertilizer throughout the growing season. For gardeners, frequent top-dressings with homemade compost and compost teas are a must.

Bacterial Canker

What it looks like: Often confused with cloudy spot disease, bacterial cankers start as yellow dots on ripening red tomatoes. If you look carefully at the spots — using a magnifying glass if you have one — you’ll see a dark, birds-eye-type rim around each of the yellowed spots. This is what distinguishes bacterial canker from cloudy spot disease.

What causes it: A bacteria called Clavibacter michiganensis. The bacteria occurs naturally but can be brought into the garden on infected plants or tools. Once it gets into the soil, rainwater splashes it up onto the plants. If there’s an open sore, such as insect damage or a leaf missing from pruning, it can enter the plant and infest it.

What to do about it: Remove the infected plants immediately and do not plant tomatoes again in that soil for at least three years. Rotate your crops regularly to prevent these and other diseases from taking hold in the soil. Don’t compost the dead plants — instead, put them in the trash to avoid spreading the bacteria.


What it looks like: As tomatoes ripen, a dark, bull’s-eye circle appears on the blossom end or bottom of the tomato. The spot is sunken and mushy to the touch. When you slice into the tomato, there’s a black mushy spot underneath that looks like rot.

What causes it: A fungus called Colletotrichum phomoides. The fungus loves hot, moist weather and is often spread by overhead irrigation, sprinklers striking infected soil and splashing the fungus up onto the plants, and infected plants.

What to do about it: Switch your watering methods so water drips on the roots, not the leaves of the plants. Harvest tomatoes when ripe, since overly ripe tomatoes tend to contract the fungus more than tomatoes in the early stages of ripening.

Viral Diseases

What they looks like: Viral diseases mainly attack the tomatoes themselves. You might find black spots on tomatoes, or weird stripes on them. Don’t confuse signs of disease for just how some heirloom tomatoes look with natural stripes.

What causes them: Many of these viruses spread when plants are stressed by heat, drought or poor soil.

What to do about them: If you’ve read through all of these tomato problems and think your tomatoes may be suffering from a viral disease, spray your tomato plants with neem oil. Good soil management and using organic fertilizer for tomatoes also helps keep your plants healthy, which can help them naturally resist viruses better.

Powdery Mildew On Tomatoes

What it looks like: Powdery mildew is easy to find on tomato plants as it looks like someone brushed the leaves with a white powder. You might find white spots on tomato leaves or even the stem. If you let the fungi thrive it will turn your tomato leaves yellow and then brown.

What causes it: Powdery mildew on tomatoes is more common in greenhouses than an outdoor garden because of the lack of air flow and high humidity.

What to do about it: The best way to prevent powdery mildew on tomato plants is to use a preventative spray formulated with sulfur. For more information, read this post on prevention and treatment of powdery mildew on plants.

Negative Effects of Tomato

May Cause Acid Reflux Or Heartburn

Regular and moderate consumption of tomatoes have been found to be very beneficial for our stomach and helps in keeping our digestive system healthy. This benefit is mainly due to the presence of dietary fibers in them. They act as a natural laxative, improves bowel movement and ensures smooth elimination of waste from our system.

By doing so, they not only provide relief from constipation but also reduces the risk of other digestive disorders like abdominal pain, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, gas etc. Although tomatoes are good for our stomach, still, it is better to eat enjoy them in moderation. This is because they are acidic in nature ( because of the presence of malic acid and citric acids) and consuming them in excessive quantity may imbalance the acidic level of our stomach giving rise to problems like heartburn and acid reflux.

At normal level, acid present in the stomach is never a problem ( in fact it is MUST, as it facilitates digestion by breaking down food molecules ), but when the level of acid gets high ( like by eating acidic food) then acid starts flowing up in the esophagus and give rise to heartburn. As per a study conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center, consuming tomatoes can even worsen the symptoms of GERD ( Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) and should be avoided by the patients suffering GERD.

Some common symptoms of GERD are chronic chest pain, dry cough, recurrent vomiting, heartburn, nausea, bitter taste, sore throat, abdominal discomfort etc.

May Cause Allergic Reactions

Tomatoes are a great source of many nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, flavonoids, dietary fibers etc. and provide numerous health and beauty benefits. However, these benefits can’t be enjoyed by the people who are allergic to tomatoes. As per a Polish study, the main culprit responsible for tomato allergy is “Histamine”, a compound present in the tomatoes.

Tomato allergy can trigger by consuming it and even by getting in skin contact with it. Consuming tomatoes may give rise to allergic reactions like hives, skin rashes, eczema, coughing, sneezing, itchy throat, swollen face, swollen tongue etc. (in individuals who are allergic to tomatoes). In addition to this, it can also form a red patch around the eyebrows and the eyelids.

May Cause Kidney Problems

Consuming tomatoes on a regular and moderate basis has been found to be very beneficial in removing toxins and other impurities from our system. This toxin-removal benefit of tomatoes is mainly because of the abundance of water ( that flushes off toxins) and dietary fiber ( which improves bowel movement) in them. By removing toxins from our system, tomatoes also reduces the burden on our kidneys and aids in keeping them healthy.

However, excessive consumption of tomatoes is bad for our kidneys. This is because consuming too many tomatoes may increase the level of potassium in our body. As per a report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, high level of potassium in our blood may increase the risk of kidney problems and even worsen the symptoms of advanced chronic kidney disease. In addition to this, tomatoes are also rich in oxalates, and higher level may give rise to kidney stones.

May Cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome

If you are suffering from Irritable bowel syndrome, then you should not at all include tomatoes in your diet. Although they are good for our stomach and helps in keeping our digestive system healthy, they also host certain allergens that may cause or worsen the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. If you are not suffering from irritable bowel syndrome then you can enjoy tomatoes in moderation, but make sure that you are not allergic to them.

May Cause Diarrhea

Consuming tomatoes on a regular basis has been found to be very effective in providing relief from constipation and for reducing the risk of other digestive problems like abdominal pain, bloating, indigestion etc. This benefit is mainly due to the presence of dietary fibers in them. These dietary fibers act as a natural laxative, improves bowel movement and aids in the smooth elimination of waste from our system. However, it should also be noted that overeating tomatoes may give rise to diarrhea.

The main culprit behind this side effect is “Salmonella”, an organism that causes diarrhea, and tomatoes have been found to be a source of them.

May Contain Excessive Sodium Level

In raw form, the tomato is not a good source of sodium, and in fact, 100 grams of sodium only contains 5 mg of sodium. This is an advantage as this ensures that the low sodium level will not interfere with the blood pressure level, and this will reduce the risk of high blood pressure or hypertension. However, if you are going to enjoy tomatoes in other forms like soup and sauce then make sure that choose lower sodium version soup.

Tomato soup can have an abnormally high level of the sodium level, and in fact, a single cup of tomato soup may contain between 700 to 1260 mg of sodium. Similarly, canned tomatoes also contain a high level of sodium ( around 220 mg of sodium for every cup of tomato sauce).

Sodium is a vital mineral ( and as well as an electrolyte) that performs many functions in our body. Some of these are maintaining the liquid portion of blood, prevents blood pressure from dropping down to abnormally low level, aids in muscular and nerve functions maintains electrolyte balance etc.

However, it should be noted that too much of sodium in our body is not at all good for our health, and may give rise to problems like loss of consciousness, excessive thirst, swelling in body at various places, risk of development of kidney stones, may cause high blood pressure, may cause stomach ulcers etc. So, if you would like to enjoy tomatoes without worrying about the sodium risk then keep an eye on sodium added to it.

May Cause Lycopenodermia

Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, an important antioxidant that provides a number of benefits to our health. Some of the major benefits provided by lycopene are, reduce the risk of cancer, protects against oxidative damage caused by the free radicals, aids in keeping our eyes healthy. improves cognitive health, improves cardiovascular health, strengthens our bones etc.

However, an excessive level of lycopene in our blood is also bad. It has been found that eating too many tomatoes can increase the level of lycopene in our body to a very high level, and this can give rise to lycopenodermia.

Lycopenodermia is a condition that causes deep-orange coloration of our skin. Although this is not a health threat, it can definitely make your skin unattractive. The situation can easily be prevented by reducing the level of lycopene in our blood, and for this, it is advisable to eat tomatoes in moderation.

May Cause Urinary Problems

Tomatoes are a good source of water and around 94 percent of tomato’s weight is water. This makes them diuretic to some extent and they increase the frequency of urination in our body.

This helps not only in removing excess water from our body but also eliminates toxins and other harmful materials from our system. This makes them very beneficial for our kidneys and for the urinary system.

However, it should also be remembered that tomatoes are acidic in nature ( because of the presence of citric acid ) and the high level of acid in our system can irritate that bladder and may result in urinary incontinence, giving rise to bladder symptoms. In certain cases, it can also cause burning sensation in the bladder.

May Cause Body Aches

Eating tomatoes on a regular and moderate basis has been found to be very effective in making our immune system stronger, and for reducing the risk of various diseases like a cough, cold, fever etc.

This benefit of tomato is mainly because of the presence of antioxidants like Vitamin C, and other antioxidantal compounds present in them. These antioxidants fight with the free radicals of our body stabilizes them and thus prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our cells, including the white blood cells that form the backbone of the immune system.

However, it should also be noted that when our immune system reacts with the proteins present in the tomatoes, a compound called “Histamine” get released into the tissues, and may cause swelling and joint pains.

In addition to this, an alkaloid named “Solanine” present in the tomatoes can build up calcium level which may get accumulated in tissues, giving rise to inflammation. Excessive consumption of tomatoes can also increase the uric acid level, giving rise to gouts. This is another reason to eat tomatoes in moderation.

May Cause Respiratory Problems In Some Individuals
Regular and moderate consumption of tomatoes has been found to be very beneficial for our respiratory system and helps in keeping our lungs healthy.

This benefit of tomatoes is mainly due to the presence of antioxidants in them. These antioxidants prevent our lungs from the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals, and thus helps in keeping them healthy.

In addition to this, other nutrients present in the tomatoes also plays a significant role in keeping our respiratory system healthy. However, not everyone can enjoy the respiratory benefits provided by tomatoes, especially those who are allergic to tomatoes.

As per a study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture, it was found that tomatoes may cause breathing difficulties in individuals who are allergic to it. It is also a leading cause of mold development, which can then give rise to allergies and respiratory problems.

May Cause Migraine

Another major side effect of eating tomatoes in excessive quantity is their ability to trigger migraines and headache. Several studies have confirmed that severity of a migraine can be prevented by up to 40 percent just by making some changes to diet, and tomato is one such vegetable that needs to be eliminated ( or at least reduced) from the diet if you are suffering from migraines.

May Interfere With Functionality of Immune System

As mentioned earlier, consuming tomatoes on a regular and moderate basis is very beneficial in making our immune system stronger, and for reducing the risk of various diseases like cold, cough, flu, fever etc. This benefit has been linked to the presence of a number of antioxidants and other antioxidantal compounds in them.

These antioxidants fight with the free radicals of our body, stabilizes them and prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our cells, including the white blood cells that form the backbone of the immune system. Just like Vitamin C, other antioxidant “lycopene” present in tomato also plays a significant role in strengthening our immune system. However, there’s a catch.

It has been found that excessive level of lycopene in our body can interfere with the immune system and make it less efficient to fight against bacterial and fungal infections. This is another reason to avoid eating too many tomatoes.

May Cause Adverse Effect On The Prostate Gland

An excess amount of lycopene is found to adversely affect the prostate gland in males resulting in pain, difficulty in passing urine and even cancer in extreme cases.

Lycopene present in the tomatoes provides a number of health benefits, but when consumed in excess, they can cause a havoc to our health. It has been found that excessive intake of lycopene may affect prostate glands in males in a negative manner, giving rise to problems like extreme pain, difficulty in passing urine, and in some extreme cases, it may even increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Too Many Tomatoes Are Bad For The Large Intestine

Now, this side effect of tomato is mainly because of their seeds. Eating too many tomatoes means the accumulation of a large number of seeds in our system, and these seeds can have an adverse effect on the large intestine. These seeds can hang onto the diverticula ( bulging pouches in the colon wall) and may result into diverticulitis.

Not So Good For Our Digestive System

Eating tomatoes on a regular and moderate basis has been found to be very beneficial for our stomach and helps in keeping our digestive system healthy. This benefit of tomatoes is mainly because of the presence of dietary fibers in them.

The dietary fibers present in the tomatoes acts as a natural laxative, improves bowel movement, and ensures smooth elimination of waste from our system. By doing so, it provides relief from constipation and also reduces the risk of other digestive problems like abdominal pain, bloating, gas, flatulence etc.

Other nutrients like vitamins and minerals present in the tomatoes also play a significant role in keeping our digestive system healthy. Although dietary fibers present in the tomatoes provides numerous benefits for the digestive system, stil, it is better to eat tomatoes in moderation.

This is because excessive intake of dietary fibers has been found to be bad for our health., and may give rise to problems like malabsorption, intestinal gas, intestinal blockage, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea etc.

May Give Rise To Hypotension

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a major health problem that affects millions of people all over the world. It is also a leading cause of various cardiovascular problems, so, it’s important to have a control over it.

Consuming tomatoes on a regular and moderate basis has been found to be very effective in providing relief from high blood pressure or hypertension. This benefit of tomatoes is mainly because of the presence of “Potassium” in it.

Potassium is a vital mineral that acts as a vasodilator, relaxes our blood vessels and thus improves blood circulation. By improving blood circulation, it helps controlling blood pressure level and thus provides relief from hypertension. However, an excess of everything is bad and same goes with tomatoes.

Eating too many tomatoes can decrease the blood pressure level to an abnormally low level and this may give rise to hypotension. Hypotension is a condition in which our blood pressure drops down to a dangerously low level, and give rise to symptoms like fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, clammy skin, depression, blurry vision etc.

Also, if you are already taking medication for controlling high blood pressure, then eating tomatoes along with the medication can interfere with the functionality of these medicines, and may even increase the risk of hypotension. For this reason, it is better to eat tomatoes in limited quantity, and if you are blood pressure medication, then it is better to have a word with your doctor about including tomatoes to your diet.

May Cause Hypoglycemia

Tomatoes have been found to be very beneficial for the individuals suffering from diabetes or who are at the risk of developing diabetes. This is because of the low glycemic index of tomatoes.

Glycemic index of tomatoes is 15 ( which is considered as low) which means it releases sugar into the blood stream at a slow rate and prevents our blood sugar level from skyrocketing. In addition to this, dietary fibers present in the tomatoes also plays a significant role in controlling diabetes as they reduce the rate at which sugar gets absorbed into the bloodstream.

Although tomatoes are useful in managing diabetes, still, it is better to not to eat too many tomatoes. This is because excessive consumption of tomatoes may decrease our blood sugar level to a dangerously low level, giving rise to hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia is a condition in which sugar level of our bloodstream drops down to a dangerously low level, and give rise to symptoms like blurry vision, rapid heartbeat, pale skin, headache, extreme hunger, sweating, dizziness, sweating, loss of consciousness etc. Similarly, if you are on diabetes medication, then it is better to first consult with your doctor about including tomtoes in your diet.

May Not Be So Good For Pregnancy

Tomatoes are a good source of many nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, dietary fibers, phytonutrients, flavonoids etc. and presence the f these nutrients make beneficial to be eaten during pregnancy phase.

The antoxidants present in the tomatoes not only protects against the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals but also provides relief from ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that usually triggers in the first trimester of pregnancy or during the postpartum period. Similarly, the folic acid present in the tomatoes prevents newborn babies from the birth defects like spina bifida and neural tube defects.

Tomatoes Safety

Tomatoes are one of the foods most commonly associated with allergic reactions.
Tomatoes are one of the vegetables in the nightshade (Solanaceae) family, which includes aubergine, peppers, and potatoes. Anecdotal case histories link improvement in arthritic symptoms with removal of these foods. Although no case-controlled scientific studies confirm these observations, some individuals consuming nightshade-family vegetables experience an aggravation of arthritic symptoms and may benefit from limiting or avoiding these foods.

Tomatoes contain moderate amounts of oxalate. Individuals with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid over-consuming them. Finally, since tomatoes are among the foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found, we recommend choosing tomatoes that have been grown organically.


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